Sunday, September 21, 2014


Farm Work is War Work, vintage poster image, courtesy of US National Library
This is a really neat poster, love the graphics on this one.  I'm guessing it's more of a backdoor advertisement for International Harvester (makers of tractors) since they are the sponsor.  Farm Work is War Work!  It compares the work of those in the war effort with the work on the farm back home.

I'm guessing this one is perhaps aimed at women and/or girls and since the poster mentions seeing your principal, this was most likely put up in schools during WWII.  "Join the Farm Victory Volunteers" was a youth group.

Hope you are having a good weekend.  We've been running errands in town, sometimes we need those weekends, and today I'm off to get some more plants to hoard save for use at the farm.

It's been dry and the rains have stopped.

Saturday, September 20, 2014


We love a plant sale!  Here in Houston, one of the chain garden centers has a great sale.  They do it every year at the end of the season.  All plants/shrubs/trees are at least 70% off.  When you are in the store, some smaller plants are as much as 80% off.  Now we don't buy veggies and/or more unusual plants at the chain places, we prefer the local nurseries and feed stores for their more hard to find local and heirloom varieties, but since we are trying to add more color to the farm, any generic ornamental tree/shrub is fair game. 

We love our greens and of course the seasonal wildflowers in the Spring, but we need more.  So earlier this year, we planted five Vitex/Chaste trees along the driveway.  Click HERE to see that.  They are also known by the more descriptive name of "Texas Lilac" due to their resemblance to lilacs but we didn't have enough to line the entire driveway.

We already had one in town, so we ended up buying four more for a total of five.  That should completely line the driveway.

$5 each!

This is what the flowers look like, long spikes of purple/blue flowers.  They have a bit of a scent that is most noticeable when they are in full bloom.

This is Texas Sage. We bought three of them.  They are VERY drought tolerant, in fact, they can go for weeks without water.  A definite plus there.

$4 each!

It is a medium sized shrub that stays green almost year round and in the heat of Summer, it ends up covered in purple flowers.  Even in poor conditions!

Lastly, we picked up these small Mexican Heather plants, five of them.  They are small shrubs that tolerate a variety of conditions and will grow in full sun or partial shade.

$1 each!

They stay covered Spring to Fall in tiny, delicate, pink flowers. They are a great foreground plant and I'd like to scatter a few around the base of some trees near the house.

$37 total for all!  Boom!  Of course, it's still too hot to plant any of these, but in another month or so, it should be good...hmm, that means the sale will still be going on as well.  Might have to check it out again tomorrow.  I'm thinking some yellow color is needed...and maybe red...and white.

Yeah, that's it.
We need other colors!

2nd Man will just roll his eyes I'm sure...but in a few years, when hopefully it is all growing and colorful, it will all be his idea.  :-)

Friday, September 19, 2014


It has rained...

...and rained

and rained...

These radar captures are from various days, various times.  The only time it stopped, thankfully (for less risk of flooding) was at night.  But we'd wake up to more rain and it would rain most all day.

2nd Family said this afternoon the final tally at the farm is:

Rain gauge of 5 1/2 inches
So that's good for the trees and plants and grass but bad for mowing because the ground and roads are supersaturated.  I'm sure things will be greening up, but I'll have to have my zen machine time later.

So this weekend, we will probably skip the farm in lieu of running errands, including more trips to some garden centers.  The rain has stopped, for now, and we hope that's it for awhile...fingers crossed.  We like the rain, just not all at once...and now that we've caught up, it can dry out a bit.

More updates as they warrant!  Hope you have a great weekend!


Stretch Brisbane
Isn't it amazing how 'comfortable' our pets can get?  This couch was a smaller loveseat we had at the time and every time he got on there, he just stretched out as long as he could.  I swear Brisbane seems like he's three feet long.  Hmm, maybe we should measure him sometime.  

More later today...
We have been inundated with rain the last few days.

Thursday, September 18, 2014


Berry Barn project, image courtesy of Kylee Baumle over at OUR LITTLE ACRE
Recently, I was blog hopping, as I like to do, and was over at Our Little Acre (link above) and I found the neatest thing when I was there.  Kylee (gardener extraordinaire) and her husband came up with a novel, and beautiful, solution to keeping their berries from being eaten by birds, rabbits and whatever else might be lurking about in the yard, waiting for a sweet snack.

Her beautiful property has some raspberries, blackberries and even blueberries.  Like many of us who have the best hopes for our berries, she fought the good fight against the furry and feathered marauders.  What they came up with was to build a frame structure of sorts around their berry beds and then cover it in chicken wire.  Think of a greenhouse, only without the glass/plastic panels...genius if you ask me!  She calls it "The Berry Barn".  Of course, we didn't need one more project to put on the list but hey, this one is almost too cool not to have on our list.  I'm not sure I could get ours to look as good as theirs, but it looks possible, someday anyway.  

Click either the photo itself, or the hyperlink above, to go to directly to the page on her blog that shows more of the photos of the construction process.

I immediately wrote to her and asked if she would allow me to share her project and she agreed.  Thank you Kylee, you've definitely inspired us!

Be Inspired!

© September 2014
by 1st Man at

Wednesday, September 17, 2014


Homemade Wedge Salad
Have you ever had a "Wedge Salad"?  

It's just as the name implies, a wedge of iceberg lettuce, some tomatoes and blue cheese dressing with bacon bits.  We pretty much do it the same way and it's so easy but so good.


1 head of iceberg lettuce
Bacon bits
Blue cheese dressing

Slice a head of iceberg lettuce into wedges by cutting it in half and then each in half again.  Put sliced tomatoes around the lettuce, we like to use sliced cherry tomatoes (these are a mix of heirloom varieties).  Pour some blue cheese dressing over the the wedge and tomatoes, sprinkle on some bacon bits (we usually keep fresh bacon bits in the fridge) and lastly we add fresh blue cheese crumbles as an extra topping.

Wedge Salad Ingredients
That's it, couldn't be much simpler.  
We often have this for dinner...if we make it substantial enough, LOL.

© September 2014
by 1st Man at

Tuesday, September 16, 2014


It was that time of year recently...


Hatch chiles
The above picture is from a couple of years ago when we roasted some in the oven.  This is what they look like before roasting.  You can click HERE for all that excitement. 

Fire roasted Hatch chiles
This year, we opted to go a bit easier.  They sell them already roasted, and better yet, they are fire roasted (we did ours in the oven).  It was certainly more time saving.  We probably paid a bit more but it was worth it.

The first thing we I did was get the skins off.  When they are roasted, the skins form an almost plastic like coating.  It's hard to describe but the good thing is running them under some water and rubbing, they just slip right off.

We dried them off and separated them into roughly equal packages.  We also decided to split them open and flatten them out.  We don't use them stuffed, we use them just chopped up as an additional ingredient in cooking so this makes it easier to add them later.

Vacuum sealed Hatch chiles
Lastly, we used our vacuum sealer to put them into flat packages and popped them in the freezer.  We did four batches like this so we ended up with twelve bags.  Since Hatch chiles are pretty much only available once a year, I guess we can only use one a month until they come around next season!
Anyone have any good uses for Hatch Chiles?

© September 2014
by 1st Man at

Monday, September 15, 2014


Our first aid supplies at the farm had been woefully inadequate until I found this Curad Complete First Aid Kit on sale at a local store.  It housed the standard assortment of bandages and such so that was good.  Not that we're accident prone of course but it's always nice to have one handy and since our bathroom does not have a medicine cabinet, this made sense.  But we were always moving it somewhere and then not remembering where it was if we needed it.

Flash forward to recently when I found this first aid storage box.  It is metal, painted red and best of all, it mounts on the wall.  I actually saw it first on Williams Sonoma's website but then I found it at a store here in town where it was much less expensive.  Of course this is a local mom and pop store so I can't direct you there but, as with most everything it seems, it's available on Amazon.

Click here Kikkerland Red First Aid Box if you are so inclined to check it out.
Red metal wall mounted first aid box
First, we found the perfect spot to mount it.  It's in the mudroom, right as you come in the back door and right next to the utility sink.  Perfect for running inside with a wound and cleaning up at the sink.

Red metal First Aid kit, loaded
Everything from the Curad kit fit inside nicely, in addition to a few extras that we have accumulated.  Now make no mistake, this isn't going to hold more than enough to handle small cuts, scrapes and splinters.  But still, it's nice to have nearby and in a location so we'll always know just where to go.

And, how's this for irony (or self fulfilling prophecy?).  As I was putting up the tools, I stuck my hand in the case and cut the side of my thumb.  Nothing bad but hey, I was standing right there so I washed it, put on some anti-bacterial ointment and wrapped it up in a bandaid.  It's first use!  Mission accomplished!  

This does make us realize though that this doesn't hold enough supplies we might need for an extended time.  Say for example we were out there for a longer period due to a natural or man made disaster, we'd like to be prepared. 

So our question is, what do you all keep in your emergency preparedness first aid kit?  We'll find a larger container that we can store under the bed or in a closet to hold more supplies...more "Prepping in Plain Sight" like we've done before.  We just want to make sure we have a good combination of supplies.

What would YOU put in YOUR first aid kit?

© September 2014
by 1st Man at

Sunday, September 14, 2014


So, one of our local garden centers is having it's annual 70% off everything sale.  Yay!  We headed off to look for some ornamental trees (still need a few Vitex/Texas Lilac for the driveway).  We'd also like to get a plum tree and one more peach and one more pear.  

We also want to try citrus again so as we were roaming around, we went to the citrus section.  These tags were on every single citrus tree, lemon, lime, orange, didn't matter, it was on all of them:

In all the years I've been venturing out to garden centers and nurseries, I've never seen this on any plant.  Very odd.  Needless to say, since our farm is outside of Harris County, we couldn't buy any citrus.  

When we got back home, I had to look it up and see what it was all about.  I found THIS ARTICLE.  There is a disease called Citrus Greening that is going on.  In July, they apparently banned ALL citrus sales to keep it from spreading (glad we weren't citrus hunting in June).  Now they are for sale again but you can't leave the county with them.

They even want's people to 'report' suspicious plants at the website below:
I don't think we will take the chance on getting any this season.  We want a lemon, a lime, an orange and a grapefruit but since they are so sensitive to freezes, I think we'll get them in the Spring after danger of frost and hopefully after this has passed.  We'll just check out next year's crop when they get shipped to the nurseries.

On the upside, we did get some more ornamental plants/bushes to add 'color' to the farm, more on that in another post.

Hope you had a great weekend!


"Scrap!" vintage WWII poster, image courtesy of NYPublic Library
Now this is quite the forearm.  Here is a poster image that dates from WWII and urges people to save and recycle their scrap metal.  Scrap metal was a frequent theme in these posters and in a way, they were the precursor of modern reduce/reuse/recycle initiatives.

Of course, the giant arm hovering over the family farmstead might be considered somewhat disconcerting, LOL!  

It's finally cooling down here, but overcast and a bit wet today but hey, we're OK with the cooler weather.  It's about time!  More later.

Saturday, September 13, 2014


At least for Saturday...

Above was the radar image for the farm early this morning before heading out.

This is the farm now.
2nd Man had to stay in town and work.

And this is the whole general area around this part of Texas.  Maybe Sunday will be a better day for outside working.  At least I won't have to water!

I'm sure I can find SOMETHING to do...there is always something to do!
Hope your weekend is off to a better start!

Friday, September 12, 2014


Sydney cat, in an MRE box
In support of National Preparedness Month, on this Feline Friday, I thought this would be a good one to post.  This is a picture taken during our Hurricane Ike adventure that I blogged about HERE, earlier this week.

We were given a case of MRE's (Meal, Ready-to-Eat) by FEMA.  We took the packages out and put them in the kitchen.  Of course, what cat in the world can resist an empty box???  Certainly not this one!  This is Sydney, who promptly hopped right in and made himself at home.  He enjoyed sitting in front of the open door, with two baby gates (one on top of the other) so that a breeze could come into the hot house.  He would duck down in the box when something would startle him outside.  He loved it.  

More later!